TOON Redux

I’ve been embracing the tenacious naïveté of the my earliest excursions into professional creative life. Resisting the urge to interpret the nonchalance, or harried schedules as an affront to my personhood, I am possessed to collect a bevy of no’s. Truly, the “Yes!” awaits. So, in that spirit, I offer my latest attempt at artistic seduction: an application to the IFP Episodic Lab

Logline * (Up to 25 words)

TOONSKIN is an animated series that centers the madcap adventures of both the guests and staff of a recovery hotel specializing in fantastical medical tourism.

Synopsis * (Up to 60 words)

TOONSKIN is a comedic animation of the absurd. With a core cast of characters including a humanoid box, a 5-inch a plastic figurine, a pair of sighted legs, a celestial body, a physican, and a nurse -- elective surgery serves as the context for storylines within a surreal tropical backdrop.

Project Summary * (Up to 500 words. Detailed synopsis)

Welcome to TOONSKIN - a vibrant world full of unexpected delights, adventure, and the soul-sucking humidity of a tropical paradise. A global hub for the most rarefied procedures in medical tourism, TOONSKIN follows CHEEKY LaSHAE, a former sex worker, and karaoke chanteuse, whose mysterious gender identity is a fluid marker of pure fabulosity. CHEEKY has left sex work to partner with Dr. Sina Patel in a luxury recovery hotel where hijinks ensue. It’s a very, Love Boat-meets-Fantasy Island situation, with a lovable cast of characters including CHEEKY LaSHAE’s business manager, the #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET (actual size), CHEEKY’s personal assistant and avid spelunker, Becky Darling (an embodied pair of lady-legs in stiletto heels), head nurse Janet LaSHAE (no relation?), and the highly neurotic Sun, voiced in a text message click, who hangs in the sky as a celestial comment thread. In addition, CHEEKY is the current host of the ridiculously popular game show, Copyright Infringement, where contestants vie for cash and prizes by correctly identifying the brand names of obscured consumer products - providing a twist on the show within a show format.

Season 1: Episode 1, “Brad Pitt Becomes Black Woman”

Well-known Brad Pitt “impersonator” finally realizes his dream of black womanhood with a 'roll-of-the-neck implant', but can she handle its newfound power?

Season 1: Episode 2, “Be a Lacefront”

Multimillion-dollar television showrunner, turned crime sleuthing cosmetologist, undergoes extreme hair replacement therapy. The results are...detectable.

Season 1: Episode 3, “Beauty and the Bih”

Upcoming nuptials prompt a couple to go under the knife. #RelationshipGoals gone awry, they find that even the most flattering of intentions aren’t covered in a prenup.

Season 1: Episode 4, “Becky’s in Arms”

Fed up with the assumptions of incapability, Becky Darling decides to take matters into her own feet. Her arm augmentation is a success, but does she lose her soul in the process?

Season 1: Episode 5, “Baby Daddy Knows Best”

Janet and CHEEKY have always wondered about their shared surname, in spite of CHEEKY’s intergalactic origins. Maury Povich guest stars in this season cliffhanger.

Artistic Statement* (What are trying to artistically achieve? What are your goals and ambitions for the project?)

My fine art practice has been heavily involved with the creation and identification of characters. CHEEKY LaSHAE was conceived as a “drag performative structure”, to be occupied by myself and others. While the #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET, was developed during a 4-year project featured on social media, and ultimately existing as a 3-dimensional installation. Rather than consign myself to the gallery or museum, I would like to develop TOONSKIN as an animated series to be accessed as entertainment. By using the extreme flexibility of animation and the context of elective medical procedures, TOONSKIN explores notions of identity, access, and advocacy. In addition, corporal forms are challenged, gender is fluid, and the medical industrial complex is parodied through the interpersonal relationships of its characters. Ambitiously, I would like to see contemporary artists commissioned to participate in the layered creation of the TOONSKIN universe, and merchandise would be made available as a meta supplement to season storylines. TOONSKIN is designed to further activate the normalization of people of color within animation --- as characters, as voices, as creators. I would also like to see a Boondocks reboot with two sisters instead of two brothers, but that’s (un)related...

Goals & Challenges* (What is the current status of your project? What are the challenges you're facing with the project? Who is your audience and how will you reach them? What do you hope the IFP Episodic Labs will help you achieve?)

Other than the overall concept for the first season and previously introducing two of the main characters through my performance artwork (CHEEKY LaSHAE and The #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET), TOONSKIN is squarely in the early development phase. I require budgeting assistance, pitch making, episodic writing, animation production, networking, character design, and storyboarding. Essentially I am hungry for it all! However, I believe that my skill set as a creator is a significant asset and I am confident in my ability to draw talented individuals together. For the series, I envision a rating of MATURE and with a core audience who appreciates edgy content, particularly dark comedies. I think the elements of my audience’s lived experience, whether it’s notions of self-identity, health, and the pursuit of a community all appear as relatable themes, to be tempered by laughter. I hope that the IFP Episodic Labs can help facilitate a draft of the five episodes along with a pitch sheet and character design for the main cast. In addition, I would like to gain networking tools and access, to present these items to programming executives for further development.

Becky Darling + Dave Fowler / #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET

Becky Darling + Dave Fowler / #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET

CHEEKY LaSHAE

CHEEKY LaSHAE

Kenya Robinson